Police solve 1994 murder of Cobb woman

A Cobb County woman who went to Nashville to break into the music business met an ending fit for a country song, a sad song.

On Thursday, Tennessee authorities arrested a man allegedly responsible for the death of Rhonda Sue Bailey, solving a 16-year-old cold case.

Bailey, 29,  was a poet who was killed a few months after moving to the music-minded city, leaving relatives in grief and without answers.

"She had written all these poems and her dream was to actually get them put to music so that she could make them songs," said Judy Stanley, Bailey's mother who lives in Hiram. "She never got that far."

David Newcomb, 43, a local man and an early suspect in the case, was served with a murder warrant on Thursday, Lt. Bill Sharp of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office said. Details of their relationship were not disclosed, but deputies believed Bailey and Newcomb knew each other.

Autopsy results in 1994 showed Bailey drowned seven to 10 days before her body was discovered, but no one had reported her missing, Sharp said. It took three weeks for investigators to identify the remains.

Six months ago, cold-case detectives dusted off Bailey's file. New interviews with old witnesses led to a breakthrough.

"Time is our ally in working cold cases," Sharp said. "Relationships dissolve [and] friendships dissolve over the course of years."

Detectives tracked down several witnesses who said Newcomb confessed details about the slaying to them, Sharp said. With the new information, deputies obtained a grand jury indictment this week for first-degree murder.

Stanley and her husband, Jack Tweedell, traveled to Rutherford County this week to see her daughter's alleged killer charged with murder. Newcomb was already incarcerated in nearby Putnam County. On Tuesday, a judge had sentenced him to six years in prison for splashing gasoline on his girlfriend and a police officer and chasing them with a lighter.

Newcomb was transferred to the Rutherford County jail to await another trial.

Stanley was relieved to get a resolution to her daughter's death. Bailey had daughters, Crystal, 7, and Heather, 8, who were staying with Stanley when their mother died. The girls are now 24 and 25, with children of their own.

"I always prayed that one day I could find out what happened, and the day has come," Stanley said.